Department Confirms Two Cases of Cyclospora in El Paso
Origin of the intestinal infection in the region still undetermined
The City of El Paso Department of Public Health announced today that two local residents are confirmed to have been infected with the Cyclospora microscopic parasite. The announcement comes in the wake of a multi-state outbreak, with a total of 126 cases reported in Texas. Officials in Iowa and Nebraska now say their investigations show that the outbreak in those states may be linked to bagged salad mix.
Epidemiologists in El Paso are currently investigating two cases of the disease that causes prolonged diarrhea, which may last weeks or even months, and may be accompanied by loss of appetite, fatigue, and diarrhea that can last several weeks and even months. The disease is generally not fatal, and so far information has not proven conclusive that the local cases are part of the national or statewide outbreak. One of the two patients affected by the disease had traveled outside the country, and may have contracted the parasite outside of El Paso.
“It will take some time for state and federal officials to conclude their investigation into this outbreak. From a local perspective, these are the first cases of this disease reported in El Paso since the disease became reportable in 2004,” said Robert Resendes, Public Health Director.
Diagnosis of the disease requires the submission of stool samples and specialized “Ova and Parasite” testing. A single negative stool specimen does not exclude the diagnosis, and three specimens are optimal. At this time, local healthcare providers are being asked to consider testing for Cyclospora for those patients who have disease-related symptoms.
The Department of Public Health is also urging local residents to report symptoms such as prolonged diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, abdominal cramps, bloating, increased gas, nausea, vomiting, and low grade fever to their health care provider.
Past outbreaks in the U.S. have been associated with consumption of imported fresh produce, including raspberries, basil, snow peas, and mesclun lettuce. Symptoms of infection usually begin 2 to 14 days after ingestion of contaminated food or water. The disease is not transmitted directly from person-to person.
More information regarding Cyclospora is available at:
Healthcare providers and laboratories should promptly report confirmed cases to the Department of Public Health by calling (915) 771-5810 or using the online disease reporting system.
The mission of the El Paso Department of Public Health is to work in partnership with people in our community to promote and protect the health of the borderland. For more information on the programs and services offered by the Department of Public Health, visit EPHealth.com or call 2-1-1.